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Second Life shaders (Sky Settings), do you hate it as well?


Sage Waverider
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At the start of this year I released bunch of Buildings in the marketplace. I've managed to find a system to bake realistic ambient light (Global Illumination and so on) into textures, which in theory would bring really pleasing content into SL. However, Second Life's shaders kills it, I can create nice shaders (Day & Night Cylce / Sky Settings or whatever should I call it) to show on my end, but since I'm a content creator I can't deliver it to ALL the customers, since regions has fixed Presets, and it annoying, since only solution is to create "Full Bright" buildings, which is worst thing in SL IMHO.

So to sum this rant up, I just contantly wonder how does such a big company as Linden Labs, couldn't implement stuff like Lighting Probes into SL? What I know they were working on Global Illumination since 2010, which would mean if common sense is used it would utilize Lighting Probes in some way to deliver GI, so just basiclly what is going on and what's your exprerience as content creators with current lighting situation right now?

 

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I find it is not getting easier to decide how to map your creations. Should you bake in AO? Well, that depends on what settings the customer is running on his end. If high settings are used there already is AO and they see shadows. That can look unrealistic as the baked in AO and shadows are fixed. On the other hand... if the customer can't run SL in high settings and I don't bake in AO and/or shadows... the product will look "flat" and will not have a lot of appeal. Same goes for normal and speculair maps by the way.

An option is bake both shaded and unshaded and offer both. Meaning more work, more costs. Costs went up whit the introduction of the normal and speculair maps anyway so you could think "what's another 10L". 

Then we have the Windlight options... I adore them when I take pictures but as a creator, well...., they can make your creations look weird to say at the least. It is just impossible to consider all the settings a customer could activate.

For now I think very carefully when I bake my maps, considering all the settings, the scene and how the product is build. Mostly I end up with a very subtle AO influence. I put a note about me using materials in the product description and hope for the best.

Last note: I do still love creating for SL but I hate thinking some customers will not enjoy my products as they were meant to be. It makes you a tiny bit insecure. The key would be customers being aware of all the things that can influence the look of a product and hope for the best again :smileytongue:

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Demos solve much of the problem for sales as people can see what items will look like in THEIR viewer. I find that very few people think about what it might look like to others :D.

 

I use Cycles Render and make my textures within the program so there are no AO maps. I find that with careful lighting in Blender I get get a realistic look of AMBIENT light. I avoid cast shadows on object or in buildings as I always use viewer shadows and have known for years how problematic those hard cast (Blender Render mostly) shadows can be. They drive me nuts.

 

I find that with Cycles render materials ala SL specular and normal maps are rarely needed. The beauty of cycles is that even the folks without advanced lighting on see a lovely texture.  I occassionaly add a normal map on items that would be very rough texture (like rocks) but stay away from them in general as the lighting can indeed give some nasty effects.

 

We work within the programs and the confines of what we can do. That's pretty much our only choice if we want to keep creating :D.

 

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You can't go wrong with baking AO maps, it's affected that much by SL Viewer's AO. Since it affects only interacting corner pieces,  there's AO equivalent in real life, but it's not considered realistic lighting solution in the world of 3D rendering.

My main point was about stuff like Light Probes, which would bring much needed realism into SL. There's the Issue of  rendered AO and realtime AO ovelapping, but even worse thing is when lets say your building gets roof shadow so whole interior unrealisticly dark, no matter that it's sunny day outside your building. You can adjust your presents how dark shadows are, but end customer might be stuck with default preset which makes shadows 50% grey and it's completely unrealistic.

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Chic Aeon wrote:

Demos solve much of the problem for sales as people can see what items will look like in THEIR viewer. I find that very few people think about what it might look like to others
:D
.

 

I use Cycles Render and make my textures within the program so there are no AO maps. I find that with careful lighting in Blender I get get a realistic look of AMBIENT light. I avoid cast shadows on object or in buildings as I always use viewer shadows and have known for years how problematic those hard cast (Blender Render mostly) shadows can be. They drive me nuts.

 

I find that with Cycles render materials ala SL specular and normal maps are rarely needed. The beauty of cycles is that even the folks without advanced lighting on see a lovely texture.  I occassionaly add a normal map on items that would be very rough texture (like rocks) but stay away from them in general as the lighting can indeed give some nasty effects.

 

We work within the programs and the confines of what we can do. That's pretty much our only choice if we want to keep creating
:D
.

 

I used to render using HDRi skyboxes, that brings most realistic AMBIENT light as you mentioned, which gets baked into textures instead of plain AO, but main thing is that it STILL is affected by SL shadows which makes it unrealistic, that's why some creators go for full bright builds, because  for now it's only way you get realism by paying the price of light dynamics.  which is not great. The truth is that the way SL handles these things are realllllly outdated and I'm not sure if there's anything coming to fix this.

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One of our big problems is we do not know how many poeple in SL are running with ALM and AO enabled. We have been asking at various UG meetings with Lindens present. We just haven't gotten an answer. 

It isn't that they don't want to. They just don't know. Answering the question is just not a priority for the Lindens. So, it has gone unanswered.

THe Lindens do not see SL as we do. I think it is important for designers and creatives to know how their products will be seen. Creatives are already having to make multiple copies of everything they sell for varous reasons. Not knowing if a person will have ALM and AO enabled sort of requires one bake shadows and AO in for one and provide another texture without the shadows and AO.

Show up at the Tuesday and 2 Thursday UG meetings and cry on a Linden shoulder. UG Meetings Bring friends. Lots of them. Do that every month for a while and we'll probably get an answer.

 

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As a consumer... on baked shadows and using fullbright, omg, keep those things away from my viewer please. Ugh.


Sage Waverider wrote:


Chic Aeon wrote:

Perhaps you will be happier in Sansar!  
:D

Hope so
:D
but what puzzles me is what's next for SL, stuff like Light Probes might get implemented into Sansar, if so; I don't see why it couldn't be implemented into SL, just to test things before Sansar goes live. 

Sansar will be very different code to SL and any effort would not be shared. SL is 15 year old, single threaded code using OpenGL. One should hope (maybe that is wasted considering it's the Lab and they are likely letting the interns write it :smileywink:) that the lab are writing the Sansar viewer as a multithreaded application using Vulkan or similar.

 

Anyway, Sansar is not for us.

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So my point somewhere along the way is that it is POSSIBLE to make things look very similar for folks running ALM or not -- using Cycles in Blender (or equivilent in another 3D program).

 

I didn't pick out any special item. This is the last project I completed (yesterday) that was up on my building pad. I left off shadows but it looks very much the same with those. I didn't pick out any special lighting. It will eventually be a pose prop.

There are two materials on this item, wood and metal. It was baked at 400 on a 1024 texture and is 3.5 meters long and 2.5 meters high. There are no normal or specular maps.

 

We can never make sure how things will look to everyone. The best we can do in this platform is try and make things look as we designed them to look for the majority of the people AND provide samples that they can view.

 



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No, I don't hate it, I absolutely love it! ^_^ *)

What I do hate, are the overdone baked shadow effects that may look good on a still photo but absoltuely horrendously unrealistic in a dynamic ever-changing environment as SL is supposed to be. And what I especially hate is when you have pieces of furniture next to each other with light effects coming from different directions or, even worse, sun coming in from different directions from different windows.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against baked shadows as such (and I've certainly done a few of them myself). But there's so much shady shadowing in SL these days. Builders often forget that the content they make needs to fit in a context and heavy shadow/light effects really need to be applied to a scene as a whole, not to individual items.

 

Edit:

*) No, I don't really love it of course, it has several serious flaws. But dynamic shading in a virtual world is really difficult and to me at least dynamic is the key word for realism.

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Nalates Urriah wrote:

One of our big problems
is we do not know
how many poeple in SL are running with ALM and AO enabled
. We have been asking at various UG meetings with Lindens present. We just haven't gotten an answer.

It's quite possible they had no way of finding the answer themselves. They do now though. Normal and specular maps are no longer downlaoded to clients with ALM switched off and that should provide a way to get reliable stats for their use.

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VanillaSunsets wrote:

Just dreaming... but it would be nice to have 2 texture slots in the uploader. One for ppl that don't use ALM and have that texture shown, and one that has a slot for diffuse, specs and normal.

Yes, that would be nice. One of the many problems with normal and specular maps in SL is that we don't really have the option to use proper diffuse maps, we have to use textures instead.

The optimal solution would maybe to use server side texture baking. Give texture creators the option to upload either complete textures or sets of matching diffuse, specular and normal (and preferably also AO) maps and then let eacher user choose whether they wanted to download the later as sets or prebaked complete textures.

The ideal solution would of course have been if normal maps had been integrated into SL right from the start but I guess it's a bit too late for that now. I'm not sure why that didn't happen btw. LL may have thought normal maps were outdated by 2003 but then they included those poorly chosen and poorer implemented bump maps - an even more outdated technique by 2003 standards.

And of course, I don't understand why there is one, and only one, normal map that seems to wrok well in all light conditions and is light enough to be rendered even without ALM...

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Sometimes creating for SL feels like rowing a sinking boat to an ever changing shoreline, lol. We all have great ideas but no power to influence the virtual world we choose, well, not enough power anyway to change things for the better. And maybe Sansar will be all we desire but Sansar is not SL and I doubt it will ever feel like it. There is only one SL and I have a very complex affair with it, both love and hate it.:matte-motes-bashful-cute-2:

A lot of times I feel like I am always one step behind as things do change pretty fast. When you tackled one challenge another one rises.

If you make clothing you have probably going crazy over the last few years. Learn to sculpt.. nah, forget sculpting, mesh is the new thing. Ok, now that you can create mesh, let's debate for months about whether it will be liquid mesh... or maybe fitted. Fitted it is, it just doesn't fit that well so you have to make both "standard" and fitted. Then Bento arrives. This cripples you creative flow, never knowing if you are on the right track, wondering if the track will be all different next week, lol. This made me give up creating clothing some time ago, it was just no longer fun and took up way too much time.

I am not in SL to make a profit. My creations make me just enough Lindens to pay my rent and buy the things I need to keep creating. As long as there is a balance between the time, effort and fun I will keep creating but some days you just wonder who you are kidding. SL is moving alright, sometimes even in the right direction :matte-motes-delicious:

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